Whole Wheat Bread – From Start to Finish

Types of wheat

  • Spring or winter: Winter red wheat tends to hava slightly higher protein and is a bit harder than content than spring. Winter red is better for baking bread. There is not a significant difference in hard or soft white wheat.
  • Hard or soft: Hard wheat varieties have higher gluten (protein) and are better for making breads. Soft varieties have lower protein and nutrients and are better for pastries, pastas, and breakfast cereals.
  • Red or white: Red wheats tend have a stronger wheat flavor than white wheats. Most red wheat varieties are hard, and most white wheat varieties are soft, but you can find soft red and hard white if you really prefer one over the other.

Storage

  • If unopened, the optimum shelf life of wheat is 12 years or more. It is edible for a lot longer than that, but won’t necessarily keep the same flavor or nutrient levels.
  • If opened, wheat will stay good for about 3 years.
  • Once it is ground into flour, wheat loses most of its nutrients within a few days unless you store it in the freezer.
  • You can add oxygen absorbers, bay leaves, or dry ice to help keep critters out of your wheat.

A lot of people are intimidated by grinding wheat, or wonder how you grind wheat. It’s actually really simple and wheat grinders are available in a wide range of prices. The main thing you need to decide is if you are planning to use your wheat stores on a regular basis and rotate through them, or if you only want to use your wheat in an emergency situation.

If you plan to use your wheat frequently it is worth investing in a quality electric grinder. We recommend the Wondermill Grain Mill as it seems to be the fastest, cleanest, most convenient of electric grinders and only $239! (In fact, we liked this mill so much that we decided to apply to become an official dealer for them … more on that next week though!) For emergency-only usage, a hand grinder will be sufficient, but make sure that you get one that can still grind into a flour fine enough for bread. The Back to Basics grinder is the cheapest one we found that would still grind flour.

For a simple demonstration on how you actually grind wheat, please view our How to Use a Wheat Grinder video on YouTube.

After searching long and hard for the BEST whole wheat bread recipe, we finally found one that was darn near perfect. It was fluffy, delicious, good for sandwiches, and even the kids would eat it! Modified slightly from the One Happy Homemaker Blog, here it is:

You can half this recipe and make one delicious large loaf

  • 3 c. very warm water (but not too hot)
  • 1 T. instant or quick rise yeast
  • 1/3 c. vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/3 c. honey
  • 1 T. salt
  • 6 cups whole wheat flour (hard white wheat is best)
  • 1/2 c. whole oats
  • 1/4 c. gluten w/ vitamin C

Combine the first 5 ingredients and mix. Add 5 cups flour, oats, and gluten flour. Mix well. Continue to add the other 1 c. flour slowly until the dough forms a ball and scrapes the excess dough off the sides of the bowl. Let mix for 5-10 minutes. While mixing, preheat your oven to 100-125 degrees.

Oil the counter surface & your hands (Use oil, NOT flour). Put your dough on the oiled surface & slice WITH A KNIFE into 2 large or 3 small even loaves. Pat down and roll into loaf shape, then put into greased bread pan.

Turn OFF your oven, cover loaves LOOSELY with saran wrap, and put in warmed oven to rise till double (about 45-60 minutes, depending on humidity in the air).
Remove loaves from oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Bake loaves for 25-30 minutes. Remove from pans immediately and place on a wire cooling rack.


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  • Jenny

    Do you have to use the gluten with vitamin c?

    • The added vitamin C just contributes to be a better texture for the bread.

  • LissyK

    I have been searching for a wheat bread recipe that can be made in a true survival situation but can’t seem to find one. I have purchased hard red wheat and a manual grinder. All the ingredients in this recipe have reasonably long shelf lives except the oil and yeast, so I do not include them in my food storage. Does anyone have a good recipe for wheat bread that does not require oil or yeast? I also plan on baking my bread in a cast iron dutch oven.

    • Arturo Delval

      Use a starter. Takes about a week to make. Basically wheat and water mix, and dispose of half in your compost, and add half of water and flour , from what you used the day before. In about a week it should start rising. Natural yeasts in the air around us. Just look for whole wheat starter in Youtube. And the rising is done overnight, not 1 hour, look for the benefits of whole grain sourdough bread v fast rising yeast.

  • Patti

    What size pans do you use?

    • We use different sizes. Jodi usually gets 2 larger loaves and Julie gets 3 medium loaves. My pan doesn’t say the size on it exactly.

  • Patti

    If you double or triple the recipe and cook more loaves at the time, should you adjust your cooking time and/or temperature?

  • Ktkleinman

    Hi there! This recipe is delicious, but I’m having trouble getting the right consistency of dough. I followed the directions exactly, but my dough still remained awfully runny. I’m afraid to add much more flour because I don’t want the bread to be dense. Any tips?

    • When my dough is sticky, I spray my hands and counter with PAM. that has seemed to help. If its really runny, I’d add more flour from the get go. Adding flour after the fact can make for crumbly bread because the gluten doesn’t have time to develop

  • Pat

    When the power goes out, so does my oven which is electric. How am I going to bake my bread?

    • Do a search on powerless cooking on our blog. We talk about lots of different options!

    • aaron

      your gas grill. you have to controll the temp but it works. here in AZ  we grill, cook and back in our grill durring the summer to keep the heat out of the house.

  • Thanks for posting the info Robert, I usually do all the blog comments every
    few days so I can keep track of what I’ve answered and not. I responded on
    Facebook before responding here so I didn’t post the answer here since you
    already had it. We appreciate you making it available to everyone.

  • What in the heck is gluten w/ vitamin C?  Never heard of it.  A google search seems to only find gluten-free stuff. I am assuming it is generic for something but what?

    Thanks
    Robert
     

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  • wyomom

    Great recipe! Family isn’t as fond of wheat bread, but loved this one. I use this recipe a few times a month and it’s always a hit!

  • Lisa Smallwood

    This is a great bread. Just made it yesterday. Made 1 mistake. I put 1 whole cup of quick oats in. Still was great. It is now my favorite bread recipe. The others would not hold together & were not so light & fluffy. I only have hard red wheat & it worked just fine. Thanks ladies.

  • Megan O.

    This is our favorite recipe! The only whole wheat bread that my kids enjoy eating. Thank you!

  • Lynn

    Another question. When it says let mix for 5-10 minutes, I do not have a bread machine or heavy duty mixer. Do I knead the dough and if so how much?

    • Watrazom

      I don’t have a mixer and I always knead my 100% whole wheat loaves by hand. (I make at least one loaf per week) The smaller the batch, the less you have to knead to develop the gluten. I usually knead my bread for between 10-15 minutes (less for one loaf and more for two) and I tend to be pretty fast at moving that dough. Also, make sure to time yourself the first several times. You would be surprised at how long 10 minutes feels when you are kneading by hand!

  • Lynn

    Is T. a tablespoon or a teaspoon?

    • Familytea

      Tablespoon

  • Fivelittlefeet

    Is this recipe still as good if you do not use the gluten?

    • Watrazom

      The taste will be just as good, but you are will lose out on texture. 100% whole wheat breads are denser without the added gluten because they can’t rise as high since the flour is heavier. The gluten strengthens the dough and allows for higher rising which results in a softer, less dense loaf. I found this out accidentally when I decided to bake a loaf after letting it rise for much longer than I intended. I thought it would surely fall, but instead I ended up with the softest loaf of bread I have ever eaten that wasn’t store-bought.

  • Just to let you know this worked fine in my breadmaker too!

    Thanks~

  • Thanks for sharing your experience. Glad you enjoyed it!

  • Thanks for sharing your experience. Glad you enjoyed it!

  • Glad you enjoy it. Another great bread recipe is our honey whole wheat bread. YUM!

  • Jean Kirkpatrick

    Dear Girls, I stumbled on to your website when I got a whole lot of wheat berries from a friend who was moving back to Arizona. I bought a Wonder Mix as you suggusted and used your recipe for whole wheat bread. I could not find vital wheat gluten with vitamin C, so I bought ascorbic acid as a supplement and added 1/2 teaspoon to the bread wth vital wheat gluten. WOW! The bread is soooooooooo good. I have made it for several friends and I think I could start a side business with the responses I have gotten. Thanks for the recipe. Jean

  • Jean Kirkpatrick

    Dear Girls, I stumbled on to your website when I got a whole lot of wheat berries from a friend who was moving back to Arizona. I bought a Wonder Mix as you suggusted and used your recipe for whole wheat bread. I could not find vital wheat gluten with vitamin C, so I bought ascorbic acid as a supplement and added 1/2 teaspoon to the bread wth vital wheat gluten. WOW! The bread is soooooooooo good. I have made it for several friends and I think I could start a side business with the responses I have gotten. Thanks for the recipe. Jean

  • Jennifer S

    When you say “whole oats” you mean the groats, right? And the you grind them same as you do the wheat?
    Also, does anyone know if you can grind steel cut oats in a grinder?
    Thanks!

  • Jennifer S

    When you say “whole oats” you mean the groats, right? And the you grind them same as you do the wheat?
    Also, does anyone know if you can grind steel cut oats in a grinder?
    Thanks!

  • Ann

    I have been grinding my own wheat and making bread for a long time. Has anyone noticed a correlation between the age of the wheat and how good the bread turns out? I think I have but would like some more imput on the issue.

  • Ann

    I have been grinding my own wheat and making bread for a long time. Has anyone noticed a correlation between the age of the wheat and how good the bread turns out? I think I have but would like some more imput on the issue.

  • Liz

    The ascorbic acid (vitamin C) helps to retain freshness, but it isn’t necessary. I use a dough conditioner that has ascorbic acid in it, and also additional gluten. You can crush a 100 mg. vitamin C tablet and mix it in if you want to have that.

    Dough won’t give you the same kind of indication of done-ness as a batter does. I bake mine for the recommended minimum time, take out one loaf and cut off a slice. If it’s done, fine–if it isn’t, it goes back in for five minutes. I seldom have to do that more than once, and the slice tastes good even if it isn’t completely cooked.

  • Liz

    The ascorbic acid (vitamin C) helps to retain freshness, but it isn’t necessary. I use a dough conditioner that has ascorbic acid in it, and also additional gluten. You can crush a 100 mg. vitamin C tablet and mix it in if you want to have that.

    Dough won’t give you the same kind of indication of done-ness as a batter does. I bake mine for the recommended minimum time, take out one loaf and cut off a slice. If it’s done, fine–if it isn’t, it goes back in for five minutes. I seldom have to do that more than once, and the slice tastes good even if it isn’t completely cooked.

  • I have the gluten without the vitamin c. Will that make a difference? Also how can you tell if the bread is done? I inserted a knife and it came out clean but after cutting into it later I think it could have been baked longer. My family does really like this recipe.

  • I have the gluten without the vitamin c. Will that make a difference? Also how can you tell if the bread is done? I inserted a knife and it came out clean but after cutting into it later I think it could have been baked longer. My family does really like this recipe.

    • Familytea

      I have a book called No More Bricks (highly recommend!) that says whole wheat bread is done when a probe inserted in the center reads 190 degrees. Mine have turned out wonderfully and consistently good this way.

      • CjR

        When I take loaves of bread out of the oven, I bang the pan on the counter.  If the bread leaves the side of pan, and falls out– it’s done! If not, put it back in the oven for a few minutes.

  • Lisa H.

    During December I made approximately 50 loaves of bread. My recipe is similar to the one listed here. Gluten is nice because it keeps the dough from crumbling. I’ve never purchased gluten with Vitamin C in it. I use a dough enhancer. It makes bread baking at higher altitudes a bit easier. The magic ingredient in most dough enhancers is ascorbic acid (Vitamin C).

  • Lisa H.

    During December I made approximately 50 loaves of bread. My recipe is similar to the one listed here. Gluten is nice because it keeps the dough from crumbling. I’ve never purchased gluten with Vitamin C in it. I use a dough enhancer. It makes bread baking at higher altitudes a bit easier. The magic ingredient in most dough enhancers is ascorbic acid (Vitamin C).

  • Liz

    It might be worth noting that several stand mixers have grain mill attachments. I know the Kitchen Aid does, and you can get an adapter to use the Family Grain Mill with both the Kitchen Aid and the Bosch mixers. I have a Bosch and the FGM adapter, and they work extremely well together. The FGM is also available with a hand-crank base, to let you grind wheat without electricity. It uses the same mill components, so you get flour nearly as fine as you could buy from the grocery store.

  • Liz

    It might be worth noting that several stand mixers have grain mill attachments. I know the Kitchen Aid does, and you can get an adapter to use the Family Grain Mill with both the Kitchen Aid and the Bosch mixers. I have a Bosch and the FGM adapter, and they work extremely well together. The FGM is also available with a hand-crank base, to let you grind wheat without electricity. It uses the same mill components, so you get flour nearly as fine as you could buy from the grocery store.

  • Great recipe! Thanks.

    I also found a wonderful recipe for Whole Wheat Breadsticks at http://www.internet-grocer.net/recipes.htm

  • Great recipe! Thanks.

    I also found a wonderful recipe for Whole Wheat Breadsticks at http://www.internet-grocer.net/recipes.htm

  • My husband is allergic to oats. Can I just eliminate them from this recipe or do I need to make an adjustment to compensate?

  • My husband is allergic to oats. Can I just eliminate them from this recipe or do I need to make an adjustment to compensate?

    • What in the heck is gluten w/ vitamin C?  Never heard of it.  A google search seems to only find gluten-free stuff. I am assuming it is generic for something but what?

      Thanks
      Robert